Study Finds Tobacco Companies Increasing Retail Promotions
Newswise — Since the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement banned tobacco advertising aimed at youths, tobacco companies have significantly increased point-of-purchase promotions for cigarettes, potentially offsetting the effectiveness of cigarette tax increas
The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, is published in the April issue of the journal Tobacco Control.
Researchers studied cigarette scanner data collected at grocery stores in 50 retail markets across the United States from 1994 to 2003. The data allowed researchers to analyze total cigarette sales as well as cigarettes sold as part of point-of-purchase promotions which include buy-one-pack, get-one-pack-free offers, price reductions and free merchandize with purchase.
“After the implementation of the Master Settlement Agreement, promoted cigarette sales increased to five times their previous level, as a proportion of total sales,” said Brett Loomis, RTI researcher and the study’s lead author. “This highlights the importance of understanding the prevalence and impact tobacco industry promotions have on smoking.”
According to the study, promoted cigarette sales spiked in the fourth quarter of 1998, coinciding with the implementation of the Master Settlement Agreement and rose again in 2001 and 2002, corresponding with widespread increases in state cigarette taxes.
Previous studies have shown that frequent exposure to retail tobacco advertising can increase the chances that a youth will smoke, emphasizing the influence of cigarette advertising and promotion.
“The tobacco industry tends to compete based on advertising rather than price,” Loomis said. “As cigarette sales continue to fall, tobacco companies will likely continue to react with increased retail advertising. Retail chains are one of the few remaining options for tobacco advertising, so it is attracting a growing share of tobacco advertising resources.”
The study can be viewed free of charge on the Tobacco Control Web site.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program is a $54 million program that funds research into policies related to alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.
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